The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 14, 2013

Neosho police: Resident stabbed intruder in eyeball in self-defense

By Jeff Lehr

NEOSHO, Mo. — The suspect in a burglary in Neosho remains in critical condition at a Joplin hospital after being stabbed in the eyeball with a steak knife by the man whose home he invaded, police said.

Officers were called about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to an apartment in Neosho in reference to a possible stabbing.

Police Lt. David Kennedy said the man who had been stabbed was no longer at the apartment when officers arrived. But witnesses informed police that the suspect was stabbed by Jeffrey D. Heathman, 31, in self-defense when he broke into Heathman’s apartment and assaulted him.

Kennedy said the 28-year-old suspected intruder was located a short time later at Freeman Neosho Hospital, where he had gone seeking treatment for a single stab wound to his face. The man later was transferred to Freeman Hospital West in Joplin, where he remained in critical condition Thursday.

“From what we were told by doctors at Freeman Neosho Hospital, (the knife) actually went through his eyeball,” Kennedy said.

The suspect was alert enough to be interviewed in his hospital room Thursday, Kennedy said. The injured man’s name was being withheld while the burglary and stabbing are still under investigation, and charges remain pending, he said.

Kennedy said the interviews conducted by officers lead police to believe that the injured man forced his way into Heathman’s home with an intent to assault him. He said investigators believe that Heathman was acting in self-defense when he stabbed the intruder with the knife.

911 call

THE APARTMENT OCCUPANT placed the 911 call that brought emergency responders to the address, authorities said.